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A Hanging – Summary



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    “As I lay under the moon, and thank God, I am breathing. And I pray don’t take me soon because I am here for a reason, as I’m singing a song for freedom.” Matisyahu sang this song called “One Day.” The song is about freedom with no more war o violence. In George Orwell’s short story “A Hanging,” he is trying to show us his experience of imperialism between the British and Burma. Innocent people were hanged for being Hindu. They were not free. The setting of the story is in Burma, in a jail cell. “We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of shreds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. As the narrator describes the cell is very small. It is only ten feet by ten feet, and only had a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. Inside these cells were “brown” people waiting to be hanged in a week or two. This dark, sorrow setting creates a sad mood for the reader. The setting for the hanging sight was a small yard with overgrown with tall weeds. “It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling.”

    When one reads the story we feel creped out that innocent men were hung. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.” The setting shows us how cruel the people were. They showed no remorse for the hostages. When looking at a story, does every story have a superhero? Not in this story. The prisoner (condemned man) was a Hindu. “He had a thick, sprouting moustache, absurdly too big for his body, rather like the moustache of a comic man on the films.” The prisoner even though he was weak he never backed down. Mentally he was strong. He stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes as though he hardly noticed what was happening.” The prisoner walked with confidence. “At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves into the wet gravel.” Right before his death, he called out the name of his god (Ram). He was hanged and “dead as stone.” This character was proven to be faithful to his God and his people. He died with a free soul. On the other hand we have characters not so good.

    The superintendent was a cruel, belligerent man. He gave the prisoner a slow death, (letting him constantly call out the name of the god) instead of letting him hang instantly. “Perhaps he was counting the cries, allowing the prisoner a fixed number – fifty, perhaps, or a hundred.” After the prisoner was hanged the superintendent grimed in a tolerant way. Francis (head jailer) was a fat Dravidian. He wore a white drill suit with gold spectacles. He didn’t care about how the Indians felt when he killed them. He was also a cruel character. One man I recall clung to the bars of hiss cage when we went to take him out. You will scarcely credit sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg.” On the other hand there was an Eurasian boy. He liked throwing in people face’s that he was proud to be a native European, “from the boxwallah, two rupees eight annas, classy European style.” The Eurasian just couldn’t stop telling horrifying stories of the prisoners. “He pissed on the floor of his floor. From fright.” Some might say that the dog is another character since he contributes to the story.

    The dog at first acts like a normal dog happy, excited, “with a loud volley of barks, and leapt around us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together.” The dog’s attitude started to change when it jumped on the prisoner. The dog began to whine. He completely changed his attitude when he realized it was shameful for being associated with the prisoner, “conscious of having misbehaved itself, slipped away after them. ” Tone plays a big part of the story. It sets the attitude of the scene. At first the tone is accusatory.

    They were hanging innocent people for not being one of them. At the beginning the narrator seems shocked by the whole scene, and was just observing what was happening. “I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. This man was not dying; he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working -bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live.

    His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned even about the puddles.” The tone shifts when the prisoner got hanged. It shifted to derisive because the narrator no longer felt sorry for the man, and even started laughing. He was trying to fit in. “I found that I was laughing quite loudly. We all had a drink together.” “A Hanging” has many themes. Cultural conflict plays a big part in this story. The Indian people are innocent and not accepted into the European society, and are being executed because of imperialism. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone—one mindless, one worldless.” In IB there is a section in the Area of Interaction called Health and Social. Health and Social play a big part in the story, it creates conflict between the two nations. There was social conflict when the Indian people looked, spoke, and worshiped differently than the Europeans. Why does all those conflict set the theme of the story? Is just because they’re unnative?

    The British wanted control. If one sided with the Indians they were taken as of them. The narrator shows how he had to go with the flow, and couldn’t speak his mind, or he would have been hanged. All in all, this sets the theme of the story. “Sometimes in my tears I drown, but I never let it get me down. Because I know someday It’ll all turn around. We don’t want to fight no more and our children will say one day.” Matisyahu sings these words of freedom. George Orwell’s short story “A Hanging,” shows his views and experiences on imperialism between the British and Burma.

    A Hanging – Summary. (2017, Feb 04). Retrieved from

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